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Michael’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 11 Nov 2007

Location: FLORENCE, Italy

MapWell we have done Florence and have nearly finished Italy.

This week we have daytripped around Tuscany to see the sites and finished off we the northern side of Florence today. We took the train to Pisa and the local buses to Sienna and Fiesole.

We enjoyed both Sienna and Fiesole but were not impressed with Pisa. Sienna reminded us of our trip to Umbria a few years ago where the old towns were relatively unscathed by progress as vehicles could not get around the narrow twisting streets. Fiesole is only about 10 miles from Florence and sits up on a hill giving magnificent views across Florence and the surrounding areas.

Pisa on the other hand was tired and apart from the leaning tower there was little else to see.

Today we visited the Museo Del Bargello that houses more of the magnificent sculptures from Michelangelo and others together with numerous other trinkets and treasures. Afterwards we walked across the river to visit the main cemetery and the Palazzo Pitti. The Pallazzo Pitti was the home of the medici family in the 16th century and the house decorations and garden are totally off this planet. This family were rich traders who were trying to become nobles and nothing was spared!

On the walk we passed through the Piazzale Michelangelo where they appeared to be a number of weddings taking place. It turned out that the japanese had organised a job lot and there were five or six couples having there photos taken all over the park. Looking at their clothes they were part of the package!

So far the trip has been relatively straight forward with not a lot to report. Each night we have tried a different restaurant in town and we have tried to keep away from the tourist route. The result has been very pleasant, so far we have not had a bad experience and had particularly good service and meals in two of the five visited so far. The best restaurant was the cheapest and from the outside looked definitely sleezy! anyway as we sat and munched our way through dinner, there was a constant stream of customers being turned away because the establishment was full. To add a bit of colour, anyone who was prepared to wait outside in the cold street, was offered a glass of wine, a nice touch.

In the evening as the shops shut, the street sellers appear on the streets, they are invariably of african origin, carry their wares wrapped in a white sheet which becomes the base of their pitch and they all sell similar gear, handbags and belts. When the police approach the melt away only to return a few minutes later! A good Gucchi bag costs about 25 euro!!

We have thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Florence and tomorrow we head off to the Riviera, to Rimini just for something to do! After a day there we catch the train to Bari and then the ferry across to Patras and finally Athens. All things being equal we should be in Athens by Wednesday night and then off to Crete the next day.